By Breanne Needles
On a large farm in Bucks County, Pa., lies Active Acres Farm, the perfect location for a Halloween attraction. For a reasonable price of $30, thrill-seekers can get scared on the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayride, the Haunted House in the Hollow and the Field of Fright.
Between several bonfires, live bands, and the fact that Active Acres is one of the oldest farms in the area, visitors are exposed to a great atmosphere that encapsulates the epitome of autumn.
Visitors can buy combo passes, which first usher them to a line for the hayride. Although it only provides mild scares, the ride makes up for it with great special effects, including an oversized fire-breathing dragon, and an actor on horseback portraying the headless horseman, galloping alongside the carriage. The headless horseman scene has been included for many years, but Bill Kealey, grandson of the owner of Active Acres Farm, explained how they choose which attractions to include.
“We change scenes every year,” Kealey said. “We do a survey of random hayride-goers asking their favorite scenes and what they would like to see next year. We decide what stays and what goes from that.”
In the Haunted House in the Hollow, visitors venture through multiple rooms and are greeted in each one by a ghostly character who begins telling a story. Each character provides an additional clue, slowly revealing the fate of the owners of the house.
The props and makeup are undeniably superb, but if guests are looking for someone to jump out at every turn, then visitors may be disappointed by the House in the Hollow.
Instead of providing constant scares, the house is sporadically interactive with the guests. One participant in each group is taken for a brief period of time, put into a coffin, and sent through a separate room to meet up with his or her companions later on.
The Field of Fright is a haunted corn maze that brings guests face-to-face with the actors and allows each group to go at its own pace, unsure of where the next scare may come from.
Kealey described the dedication and preparation time that perfecting the attraction requires each year.
“We start our planning around July, and we start building our new scenes in August,” he said. “We work on the hayride and maze every day until the first night.”
The actors seem to really enjoy what they do, which bolsters the populatiry of the attractions.
“When it comes to scaring the hayride-goers, that’s more than fun,” said Stephanie Clark, an actor on the Sleepy Hollow hayride. “It’s a rush to get someone to scream and hide.”
Both Kealey and Clark agree that getting a scare out of guys who try to act tough in front of girls is the best part.
“That is what we think keeps people coming back,” said Kealey.
Whatever it is, people are coming back year after year, as Active Acres continues to be one of the most popular Halloween attractions in Bucks County.
Active Acres haunted attractions are open every Friday through Sunday until Nov. 2.
Printed in the 10/23/13 edition.